Forget body scrubs – these mitts, gloves and cloths are the key to exfoliation

For an exfoliation like no other, look to body scrubbing mitts and gloves, recommended by Stylist’s beauty director, Shannon Peter.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a body scrub as much as the next perpetually dry-limbed person. Super coarse, salty grains submerged in rich, unctuous oils? Give me more. Clever body scrub bars that flick away dead skin cells? I’m obsessed. But in my ongoing mission to optimise my body skincare routine, I’ve realised that for skin so smooth it practically gleams, the best body scrub isn’t actually a body scrub at all. It’s an exfoliating mitt.

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Quite simply, exfoliating mitts and body scrubbing gloves are like flannels made from rough fibres that, when buffed over the body, dislodge stubborn dead skin cells. Unlike traditional body exfoliators, in which most of the grains (and thus most of the exfoliating power) end up on the shower floor, exfoliating mitts are more efficient and offer more control. Plus, the scrubbing sensation is ridiculously satisfying.

Better still, they tend to be pretty affordable (although more luxe versions do exist) and with proper care (i.e. allowing them to properly dry after each use and popping in the washing machine regularly), can last for ages pushing the cost-per-scrub ratio into the pennies.

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Sure, I love an exfoliating glove for all of the above, but the real reason? The results. I swear I’ve never had such smooth, soft skin since I started using one.

I tend to use mine in the shower, applying shower gel and then using the glove to work it into a frothy lather. Sometimes, though, if I have a particularly rough patch of skin, I’ll use it alongside my favourite body scrub as a double whammy. And it’s always best to follow with a body lotion to replenish skin’s moisture levels.

However, as with most beauty inventions, not all body scrubbing gloves were created equally. Plus, the spectrum of gloves has grown massively too, with all kinds of mitts, towels and cloths now available. I’ve listed all my favourites below.

  • The basic glove

    Some exfoliating mitts come as a single glove, meaning you have to switch hands halfway through the scrubbing session. Boots, on the other hand, very helpfully supplies two of these roughly-woven gloves, speeding up shower time.

    Shop Boots Exfoliating Gloves at Boots, £1.50


  • The Ghanaian exfoliating sheet

    A long-held Ghanaian beauty secret, these net cloths enable you to manoeuvre around every contour of every limb for full body exfoliation. Plus, they’re sourced ethically direct from stall-holders in Ghana and last upwards of a year. 

    Shop Blue Nett Exfoliator at Nett, £25


  • The Japanese paper cloths

    Sasahawashi is an organic fabric made from the traditional Japanese paper, washi as well as leaves of the kumazasa plant. The result? A satisfyingly coarse cloth that makes light work of flaky limbs. 

    Shop Vanderohe Set of 3 Sashawashi Exfoliating Body Cloths at Net-a-Porter, £65


  • The bamboo mitt

    Hydrea London chose bamboo as the fibre of choice for this mitt which just so happens to be the one hanging in my shower right now. It’s rough but not as hardcore as sandpaper, so it won’t leave you completely red raw and sore.

    Shop Hydrea London Bamboo Gentle Exfoliating Mitt at Look Fantastic, £7.99


  • The gentle mitt

    Definitely one of the most gentle mitts out there, Ameliorate uses an innovative weaving technique to ensure the surface of the fabric isn’t too rough. It’s perfect if you have sensitive skin, or if you can’t trust yourself not to go too hard.

    Shop Ameliorate Exfoliating Body Mitt at Cult Beauty, £10


  • The froth-inducing gloves

    With a knit-like weave, The Body Shop’s gloves do a great job of lathering up shower gel. Plus, they come in four colours which shouldn’t matter, but totally does.

    Shop The Body Shop Bath Gloves at The Body Shop, £4


  • The 2-in-1 mitt

    There’s two sections to this innovative glove. The main body of it is made from looped fibres for effective exfoliation, but the thumb is covered in a softer fabric, perfect for gentle cleansing. 

    Shop So Eco 2-1 Exfoliating Glove at Look Fantastic, £5.20


  • The back-scrubbing band

    Being practically out of reach, backs are usually neglected in the body scrubbing process. Not anymore. Hold the handles of Soak Sanctuary’s genius band and rub it up and down the back to reach every last inch.

    Shop Soak Sanctuary Sisal Exfoliating Back Scrub at Soak Sanctuary, £4.50


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